Long Walk 3rd May led by Chris Mansfield
Thirteen of us met at Dry Leas car park in Henley – a new car park for us out at the Rugby Club and half the price of the ones in town! We set off at 9.40 to walk uphill along streets to the upper part of town where we met Jenny & David who had parked at the pub in Rotherfield Greys and walked down to Henley to meet us and join the walk (they needed to leave immediately after lunch). We continued uphill and reached the golf course then followed the public footpath across it and entered Lambridge Wood where we encountered beautiful drifts of bluebells. It was dry but no sunshine but still the combination of bluebells and the fresh green beech leaves made a wonderful sight. We continued on through more woodland and passing more bluebells to finally reach Shepherds Green not far from Greys Court.
Here we joined the Chiltern Way and followed it for about a mile before turning off across a natural burial ground toward Rotherfield Greys and the Malsters Arms for lunch, arriving at 12.50. The pub was very busy but we had a table reserved and had pre-ordered our food which was served quite quickly under the circumstances by the very friendly and obliging landlord. At 2pm we set off again for the last 2 ½ miles, all downhill down a beautiful valley back to Henley arriving at about 3.15. A beautiful walk, especially at this time of year.
Strollers 8th May led by Jacqui Kennedy
Eleven of us met up at the parking area by the start of the Phoenix Trail; it was a bit chilly, but dry. We crossed the road and took the footpath that runs through Little Horsenden Farm, over a couple of fields them diagonally across the third, towards Mill End. We crossed the stream and turned right along Mill Road for a few yards before taking the footpath on our left. We headed towards Ilmer and after crossing three fields came to wood at the former village of Lockington. We paused here and I explained a bit about the history of Lockington and about ‘The Ilmer Hermit’, Charlie Belgrove, who had lived in the woods until his death in 1967, and constructed a number of wells and various dwellings; the ruins of one dwelling were still to be seen, and the group decided they would like to find it! So, we battled through brambles and nettles and eventually came across it (photo attached), although it was far more overgrown than in the photo I took a few years ago! We made out way back to the path and continued our walk in the adjoining field, taking the next footpath to our left. At the end of this field, we came out at the top end of Mill Road, where we turned left. After a few yards, we turned right to the old ford crossing the stream. Fortunately, hidden amongst the reeds to one side, there was a bridge, so we were able to keep our feet dry. We continued across the fields to the Phoenix Trail which we then followed back to the start. It had been a good walk, which everyone seemed to enjoy, particularly learning about Lockington and seeing the remains of the old building. Three of us then enjoyed lunch at the George & Dragon.
Medium Walk May 12th led by Hana & Alan Mace
A smaller number of walkers today, just 10, congregated in the charming and historic village of Ivinghoe, which is tucked under the steep scarp slope of the Chilterns on the Herts/Beds/Bucks borders. It lies at the junction of the Upper and Lower Icknield Ways, the Upper Icknield Way being the Ridgeway. The walk started along the side of the churchyard of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, a 13th-14th century church which was much restored in 1871. We walked past the old 16th century Rectory and a group of very pretty cottages with wildflower frontages, then followed the well-used path, running for part of the way alongside the golf club, where we had to make way a couple of times for enthusiastic joggers and pooch in tow. At the hamlet of Ivinghoe Aston (where the actor Bernard Miles lived) we turned right with Ivinghoe Beacon looming ahead of us as we diagonally crossed grassy fields. Then the day’s challenge of the steep climb up Ivinghoe Beacon. Yes, the climb is quite strenuous but nothing fazes this walking group and everybody took the steps at their own pace. One unnamed person had a bout of basiphobia but we scaled the summit for breath-taking views. Refreshment break over we took the broad track downhill to the lane and followed the Ridgeway through the scrubby woodland. On our right the downland fell steeply away into a dry valley typical of the chalky terrain. Another mile of walking amongst the sheep and then we took our chances crossing the road to Pitstone windmill. This is the oldest surviving post-mill dating from 1624. Extensively repaired by volunteers in 1963 using the timbers of the original mill, it is now a NT property. Bob was busy photographing the mill from every angle. Crossing the field we re-entered Ivinghoe village through a gap between pretty 16th and 17th century houses. Back to the cars by 12.15, well ahead of our expected time because the walk distance, according to Bob’s gizmo, showed 5.5 miles whereas the walkers book gave the distance as 7.5 miles! A short drive to Cheddington and our lunch venue, The Old Swan and a new hostelry for the group – one that appeared to score pretty highly on the food quality/value/presentation U3A TripAdvisor rating.
GUC Walk May 18th Warwick Parkway to Lapworth
After a dreadful day of downpours we were so lucky to have a lovely May day for our canal walk. The minibus came at 9am and dropped us at the canal near Warwick Parkway for our 8 mile walk to Lapworth. It was a beautiful day, May blossom and cow parsley along the way and wonderful reflections in the water. Our path started at the foot of the Hatton Locks – 21 locks in 2 miles with the last 10 in a staircase – very impressive. On reaching the top lock we stopped for coffee at the café on the lock before continuing on along a mostly flat stretch admiring ducks and ducklings as we went. We arrived at the pub Tom o’ The Wood at Turner’s Green at 1.15 where 2 tables had been reserved for us and the food was good and quickly served. Setting off again at 2.30 we soon covered the 2 miles to bridge 66, just past Lapworth where we left the canal to walk back through the village and to the Navigation pub arriving at 4pm – the start of Happy Hour! Most people had a cup of tea though some decided G&Ts were a good idea as we waited for the bus which arrived at 5pm. The weather by now had clouded over and rain set in as we were driven home, arriving at about 6.20pm. A beautiful walk – probably the best so far!
Main Walk May 22nd led by John Stallwood
Fifteen of us met on a glorious May morning in the car park by Hughenden Church. WE set off just after 10am uphill though the churchyard, stopping for a quick loo stop before continuing on through the top car park and on along a track to reach Naphill Common then on along woodland paths behind the houses of Naphill and the Black Lion. Later we turned left now walking towards Bradenham to reach a notice board describing the wildlife to be found in the area. Here we turned left again, coming out of the woods and onto a path giving wonderful views over towards West Wycombe and beyond. There were some picnic tables set out here so we stopped for a short break for a drink and to admire the scenery – so hard to believe that Wycombe was so close by. We continued on with a few ups and downs to finally reach Hugendon Manor where most of us stopped at the café for a spot of lunch. Then it was just a short walk downhill back to the cars by the church. A great short walk of 5.5 miles enjoyed by all.